Electoral Act: National Assembly Rejects Voting Right For Underage Mothers
Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission and Election Matters has reportedly rejected a proposal to allow married underage girls to vote during elections.
According to ThePunch, the proposal did not scale through when it was tabled before the Technical Committee on Electoral Act Amendment at the end of its three-day retreat held in Abuja last week.
The technical panel consists of members of the National Assembly, Attorney-General/Minister of Justice, the INEC Chairman, notable stakeholders in election matters and heads of pro-democratic institutions.
In December, Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Aisha Dukku, proposed a review of the provision in Electoral Act which pegged the eligibility of a voter at 18 years.
The federal lawmakers specifically recommended that INEC should consider any married girl who is not up to 18 years as an eligible voter.
However, many stakeholders, especially civil rights groups and lawmakers, kicked against the provision when it was presented as part of the proposed amendments to Electoral Act 2021.
It was learnt that members of the joint panel, while reviewing the outcome of retreat, agreed with the positions canvassed by participants at the forum and dropped the proposal.
They argued, among others, that, it was a smart way of giving legal backing to child marriage.
Senator Gaya confirmed to the publication that the proposal did not pull through, as stakeholders unanimously rejected the idea on the grounds that it was in conflict with the constitution, which pegged voting age at 18.
He, however, said the Islamic religion recognises any mother, no matter the age, as being responsible and mature.
Senator Gaya expressed;
The law recognises an 18-year-old person and above as eligible voters but we wanted to put a caveat that any married lady who is not up to 18 years old should be qualified but the proposal did not sail through.